Ophelia's Jump Productions

Director's Notes on "And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens and other Tales"

"Deaths of Queens" as we call it, is an evening of theatre featuring 6 one acts that explore the eternal conflict between the creative/chaotic and the orderly/pragmatic.  A common theme in Tennessee Williams' works, these short pieces are populated by characters who follow their dreams, passions, and internal voices to funny, absurd, poignant, and sometimes tragic extremes.  Several of the pieces are self-referential as the artist, Tennessee Williams, wrote to expiate and understand the devils and muses in his own life.  

Here's the line up for the evening:

"Mister Paradise" directed by Nicki Heskin-- a young girl discovers a discarded slim book of poetry and tracks down the forgotten poet who wrote it in order to re-introduce him and his work to the world.  The poet explains that the current world is not interested in poetry and asks her to wait until he is dead to re-introduce his poems to the world.  She finally agrees and they part.

"In Our Profession" (comedy) directed by Nicki Heskin-- a young actress tired of theatre life goes about serially pursuing marriage proposals at whirlwind speed forcing the recipients of her laser-like attentions  to call in reinforcements to rebuff her advances.  

"Pretty Trap" (dramatic comedy) directed by Dexter Rogers-- This one act is the pre-cursor to "The Glass Menagerie".  The world is divided into Dreamers and Workhorses and to Amanda's chagrin, her children are both Dreamers.  Funny, vivacious and overbearing, Amanda is determined to see her children are taken care of and goes to ridiculous lengths to manufacture opportunities for them.  Interestingly, this precursor piece ends on a hopeful note.  

"And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens" (drama) directed by Beatrice Casagran-- Candy, an aging queen seeks to find love and companionship in a sad attempt to buy the love of a rough, abusive, and homophobic longshoreman.  Her fantastical efforts to find love and companionship ignore all the obvious obstacles.  Candy's fierce devotion to her fantasies make her at once pathetic and admirable.

"Interior Panic" (drama) directed by Dexter Rogers-- This early version of "A Street Car Named Desire", focuses on Blanche's unrelenting internal voices that lead her to act out in disastrous ways and to alienate all those around her.  The mental illness plaguing the aging Southern Belle, is reminiscent of that experienced by Tennessee's sister Rose who was lobotomized for angry outbursts and sexual acting out.  Iterations of Rose showed up in Williams's work throughout his life.  In Interior Panic, the character who would be become the iconic Stanley Kowolsky lacks the brooding, threatening qualities that would define him in "Streetcar".  Blanche's sister is named Grace not Stella.  Williams's use of the device of internal voices that only Blanche and the audience can hear, focuses the story on her and her warped reality, making the other characters in this piece mere satellites circling around Blanche who is spinning out of control.  

"I Never Get Dressed Until Dark on Sundays" (dramatic comedy)  directed by Beatrice Casagran-- This meta-theatrical piece is the seed which later grew into the full length "Vieux Carre".  It is a wonderful blend of comedy, tragedy, and metacognitive exercise.  In this play within a play, the drunken Playwright grapples with a commercially driven and apathetic Director, an ego-soaked Stage Manager looking to revive an imagined career, and the insecurities of a cast who is worried about not offending the audience.  The action shifts between the play being rehearsed and the overarching work in which the Playwright leads the actors and the audience on a  journey through the creative process.  Through this partially autobiographical piece, Williams opens up the creative mind with all its foibles and idiosyncracies  for the audience's inspection.

​Beatrice Casagran
Artistic Director

Ophelia's Jump Productions